Excess deaths in Eastern Cape must be accounted for

Issued by Jane Cowley, MPL
Shadow MEC for Health

People are dying in much higher numbers in the Eastern Cape during the Covid-19 period. Excess deaths recorded in the province between June and July paint a dismal picture of potentially under reported Covid-19 fatalities, with almost four times as many excess deaths than the official Covid-19 total.

Excess deaths are defined as deaths which occur in excess of what would normally be expected, based on historical figures.

If these deaths prove to be Covid-19 related, it could drive the province’s death toll to well over 8,000.

By 28 July, the Eastern Cape Province had registered 1545 Covid-19-related deaths, but according to the South African Medical Research Council, there were 7597 excess deaths in the Eastern Cape recorded between the 6 June and the 28 July.

In Nelson Mandela Bay, there were 1 481 excess deaths during this period, and in Buffalo City Metro, there were 949.

Because of the high numbers of excess deaths, which are very likely to be directly linked to Covid-19, the Minister of Health, Zweli Mkhize, has called for all sudden deaths and home deaths to be subjected to Covid-19 testing, to establish whether Covid-19 played a role.

If the majority of these excess deaths are attributed to Covid-19, our provincial figures will change dramatically, and the true effects of the pandemic will become clear.

I will be writing to the MEC for Health, Sindiswa Gomba, to establish whether the Ministerial directive to test posthumously has been implemented across the province. I will further request that the relevant provincial statistics be updated to include more accurate mortality figures.

The Democratic Alliance has consistently and repeatedly called for the Department of Health to release accurate data on a dashboard, which can be accessed by the public, such as they have in the Western Cape.

This will allow for our citizens to be informed and thus empowered to make good decisions about their safety and their health during the Covid-19 pandemic.